Seven years after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the site, developer John Vitale stood in the community room at the newly opened Channel Club apartment complex and reflected on the culmination of a long journey overseeing its revitalization.
“This is a great day for Island Park,” Vitale said at a ribbon cutting event for the complex on Oct. 30. “… I want to welcome some of our new tenants. You’re going to be a part of a great community, and I think you’re going to really enjoy Island Park, and enjoy the beaches across the bridge.”
Vitale is the managing member of the Island Park-based Barnum Land Development, and his son, Dylan Vitale, is a manager. The Vitales own the Bridgeview Yacht Club and the Loft by Bridgeview, and built the Barnum Landing Shopping Center in 2008. They are also partners in Jordan’s Lobster Farm. The Channel Club served as their last Sandy revitalization project for the area.
Dozens of community members attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, including Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, former Sen. Al D’Amato, Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty, Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, who is an Island Park resident, members of the Chamber of Commerce and tenants of the Channel Club.
D’Esposito spoke about the importance of the Island Park renaissance, and told new residents that they, like him, would come to have an affinity for the area.
“For those of you who are new to Island Park, you’ll quickly learn that like most people who live in Island Park, who were born and raised in Island Park like me and many of the people in this room, you have a true love for this community,” he said, “and for the Island Park people and for everything that is Island Park.”
The Channel Club comprises two, four-story waterfront towers, the first of which began renting to residents in August, while the second started accepting tenants on Oct. 1. Dylan Vitale said the properties are 77 percent leased. The complex replaces the Vitales’ former restaurant-bars, Paddy McGee’s and Coyote Grill, on property they have owned for more than 30 years on Waterview Road and Pettit Place in Island Park.
The towers each have 43 units, and there are 153 parking spaces between them on the ground floor of each structure. There are 54 two-bedroom and 32 one-bedroom apartments in all. Amenities include balconies, washing machines and dryers, and stainless steel appliances in each unit. There is also a fitness center in the first tower, a community room with a pool table and lounge area in the second tower, and a pool deck area on the second floor that connects the buildings. The development also offers boat slips for residents, who will be able to keep everything from boats to personal watercraft to kayaks on the property.
The project has been in the works since 2014, and was approved by the Town of Hempstead in July 2015. The complex was completed in two phases, as Tower 1 was built first, followed by the second structure. Because Sandy damaged their former property, the Vitales wanted to make the towers storm-resilient. They built a new, raised bulkhead to reinforce the property, and installed all mechanical units on the roof. In addition, they added a generator and underground drainage to handle severe storms.
Vision Long Island, an economic development advocacy agency, honored the project with a Smart Growth Award, and its director, Anthony Alexander, praised the project at the ribbon cutting, while noting it was one of 120 transit-oriented development projects that have been approved on Long Island.
“You’re part of something very unique and special for Island Park,” Alexander said. “I just look forward to continued success.”
The site is aimed toward young business professionals and empty nesters looking to downsize, because of its proximity to the beach and the Long Island Rail Road. Island Park Chamber of Commerce President Barbra Rubin-Perry said she was hopeful that it would also bring about a boon to local businesses, and that some merchants planned to welcome the new residents with gift baskets.
“The Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to have all these new people moving into our neighborhood,” she said. “We hope they take the time to get to know us. We are always open and we hope they enjoy living in Island Park. It’s a great community.”